Companies in Scotland are being warned of a bogus letter, allegedly sent by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), warning of an impending audit for illegally held software.
The letter says that companies will be contacted by a Mr T Thorpe on behalf of the Federation Against Software Theft (Fast) which will carry out the audit on behalf of the BSA.
Fast confirmed that no one called Mr T Thorpe worked for the organisation and said it has passed on the details of the hoax to the BSA after being tipped off by a company that received the letter.
Both anti-software piracy organisations have denied anything to do with the letter and have taken action to warn companies in the Glasgow and Inverclyde areas to be on the lookout.
"The BSA is anxious to alert all Scottish businesses to this fraudulent attempt to gain access to the companies' software details," said the BSA in a statement.
"Contrary to the suggestion in the fake letter, the BSA has not selected any company for an inspection by the company named in the letter, Fast - or any other auditing company. The BSA will pass details of the possible fraud over to the Scottish authorities," it said.
What makes the hoax even more puzzling is that it appears to be motiveless. One explanation may be that the group involved was staking out companies intending to steal hardware to order.
In the letter, it talks of contacting "other graphic related companies". This may provide a clue to a motive but both the BSA and FAST admit that they are stumped by the fraud.
Ironically, the BSA is launching a new campaign - Crackdown 99 - to curb the illegal use of software.
It is sending out letters to 80,000 small businesses across the country alerting them to the penalties for using illegal software and is worried that some companies will now ignore it, thinking it may also be a hoax.
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